Streets of New York City empty and quiet during COVID-19 pandemic

Simone De Peak was in the city that never sleeps when it went into a deep slumber.

The Newcastle Herald photographer is in mandatory self-isolation for the next 14 days after returning early from a holiday to New York.

She said the streets in the usually bustling Big Apple were eerily quiet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The last three days we were there were really bizarre, and quite eerie, because you would be walking down the streets to Time Square - that had previously been thick with people - and there was no one there. Maybe the odd person," Ms De Peak said. "It was an unusual experience."

When Ms De Peak and her partner, Miranda Whittle, arrived in New York, they visited Times Square.

"It was busy, it was bustling. People were excited - there was a real energy there," she said.

Then, a 10pm curfew was introduced in the city that never sleeps.

Tourist attractions began shutting down and visitors began to leave the country. The subway and streets were almost empty.

"We managed to get up to the Empire State Building. We were up there at midnight the day before they shut all the tourist attractions. There was only us, and maybe 20 other people. We'd had tickets to see Billy Joel, we had tickets to a New York Knicks game, we had tickets to the theatre. Everything was cancelled. The shops were shutting."

But they were not disappointed.

"Not too many people have that experience - to go to New York City and feel like you're almost the only one there," she said.

"But when things started getting worse over there, and it was obvious things were getting worse by each day, we decided to cut our trip short and come home."

The plane had been "packed". About a quarter of travellers on board were wearing face masks.

"I think we were one of the first flights back after Scott Morrison announced the mandatory isolation for anyone arriving back from overseas," she said.

"We have been lucky enough that we had family and friends with a key to our place who stocked our pantry for us. Now I think I will finally get my vinyl collection in order after 10 years.

"I have plenty of books to read, and we just hope the NBN doesn't go down. If that happens I think everyone is in trouble," she laughed.

"But I do hope New York wakes from its slumber sooner rather than later."

This story A New York state of mind: coronavirus empties the Big Apple's steets first appeared on Newcastle Herald.